Scott Morrison Marise Payne Pacific infrastructure
(Image: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

MORRISON’S PACIFIC PACKAGE

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today unveil a $3 billion package aimed at shoring up infrastructure and foreign relations across the south-west Pacific, as part of an admission that Australia too often takes the region “for granted” and a perceived bid to counter China’s influence.

According to the Australian Financial Review ($), Morrison will today announce a number of new initiatives from Townsville: a regional Australian Defence Force mobile team for regional training and aid; the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility, to make $2 billion available in infrastructure grants and loans; a $1 billion boost to Australia’s export credit agency; and five new embassies.

The pivot, combined with yesterday’s announcement from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to block a $13 billion takeover of APA Group by Hong Kong’s CK Group, could test thawing relations with China as Foreign Minister Marise Payne prepares to meet today with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing.

US DEMOCRATS FLIP HOUSE

US Democrats are preparing for new oversight powers after midterm elections saw the party retake control of the House of Representatives and, while winning the popular vote, losing at least two Senators.

According to CNN, House Democrats have flagged greater scrutiny of issues that have largely swept through a Republican-controlled Congress over the past two years. These include gun laws, Russian interference, environmental laws, family separations at the border, and the Justice Department’s recent failure to defend the Affordable Care Act in a Texas courtroom. Other potential powers include forcing Cabinet secretaries to testify and requesting tax returns from President Donald Trump, who has since threatened to counter any new House inquiries with Senate investigations into “all of the leaks of classified information”.

Yesterday’s election also saw a record number of women and minorities enter Congress, strengthened Trump’s ability to confirm federal judges, passed a number of separate ballot measures, including an end to greyhound racing and felon voting bans in Florida, and demonstrated some new voting hurdles that saw the state of Georgia sued for election “interference”.

VIC ALP PLEDGES 50% RENEWABLES

The Victorian Labor Party has promised to raise its renewable energy target to 50% by 2030 if it wins this month’s state election.

According to The Age, the plan would ramp up the state’s already legislated renewable energy targets of 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025, both of which the Coalition plans to kill if it wins this month. The news comes as the state Greens both announce plans for a royal commission into planning decisions and fear an upper-house bloodbath, while the Victorian Liberals announce they will not contest four inner city marginal seats in an apparent response to a breakdown in preferencing discussions with Labor.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I think the ABC should stop turning up to press conferences and asking questions from the Labor Party.

Scott Morrison

The Prime Minister provides a very normal response to questions of electoral concerns over leadership stability.

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

“In the case of Penthouse Australia, that meant taking an ideological leap; rebranding itself as a vehicle for the alt-right, organising Australian speaking tours for figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Gavin McInnes, and employing a suite of conservative commentators to ‘trigger the libs’.”

“So, the woman who could not bear to share the spotlight with a figure as charismatic, outspoken and high-profile as Brian Burston has hired one of the few men who have been able to talk too forcefully for Sky After Dark to keep them on. Wondering how this will go? Let’s take a look at the last few years in the lives of one of Australia’s most frequent job-seekers, and one of Australia’s least loyal employers.”

“The ‘sad turn of events’, as it was described, was worth three sentences in the Herald Sun‘s full 12-page cup wraparound — making it into the article after the race details, the weather, crowd numbers, TV ratings, and Marwan Koukash’s promise to accept the cup in a g-string if he won. In the sports section, the death earned one story in the further nine pages of racing coverage.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Class action firm to intervene in casual worker test case

‘It starts from the ground up’: NBN exec wants women in top tech roles

Jackie Trad threatens to hit miners for billions ($)

Cafe Society: Nurses being pushed to the limit ($)

Australian pet food pulled from shelves after Perth dogs become ill

Daniel Andrews staffer link to China foreign influencers ($)

Liberal Party funding blitz aims to fill Turnbull donations gap

Nearly 80 children kidnapped in Cameroon released but two teachers still held

Rudd to deliver blistering critique of ‘foolhardy’ Morrison embassy move

Israel considers death penalty for Palestinian terrorists

THE COMMENTARIAT

Don’t be fooled. The midterms were not a bad night for Trump — Cas Mudde (The Guardian): “The midterms turned out to indeed be a referendum on Trump and ‘Trumpism’, ie a populist radical right combination of authoritarianism, nativism and populism. It was fully embraced by the Republican party and fully rejected by the Democratic party. The key result of the midterms is that America is now both more nativist and more multicultural.”

Australian voters tend not to be as forgiving of buffoonery ($) — Niki Savva (The Australian): “Also, unlike Trump, Morrison does have a formidable opponent. Technically it’s Bill Shorten, who is as cunning as he is unpopular, although he has gone very quiet lately, no doubt waiting like everybody else for ­tonight’s special edition of ABC’s Q&A to see if Malcolm Turnbull follows Tony Abbott’s lead and does some of his work for him.”

Government’s overstated victory on power pricing: It was an easy goalElizabeth Knight (Sydney Morning Herald): “Call it the big stick or the big squeeze – the Coalition government’s emissary, Angus Taylor, was sent to at the very least create the appearance that power companies would be bludgeoned into lowering energy bills within a politically motivated timetable.”

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The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Townsville, Queensland

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison will make a foreign policy announcement, set to increase Australia’s engagement in the Pacific, at Townsville’s Lavarack Barracks.

Canberra

  • The senate economics committee will deliver a report on GST carve-up legislation.

  • ANU will host An Honest History symposium, to include the launch of Guardian journalist Paul Daley’s new book On Patriotism.

Melbourne

  • A federal joint inquiry will examine aspects of the revisited Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

  • Victorian Greens’ leader Samantha Ratnam will call for a leaders debate and make a major planning announcement.

  • Neuroscientist Lorimer Moseley will present “Pain, the brain and your amazing protectometer” for Musculoskeletal Australia’s annual 2018 Koadlow Lecture.

  • The Birdcage will host celebrities including Jennifer Hawkins on Melbourne Cup Carnival’s Ladies’ “Kennedy Oaks” Day.

  • Former Victorian Premier John Brumby will appear on panel event “A Hypothetical Supercity, 2033” as part of the This Is Not a Drill series at the Wheeler Centre.

Sydney

  • Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull will appear on a special episode of Q&A.

  • The Grattan Institute will host panel event “Graduate premium: Is it still worth going to university?” with higher education representatives at the State Library of New South Wales.

  • Professor Ian Freckelton QC will present “Organiser of Manslaughter by gross negligence, or systemic failure? Implications of the Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba case for Australia” at the University of Sydney.

Perth

  • Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will hold a door stop at Bentley Hospital.

Darwin

  • NT Attorney-General, Minister for Justice; and Health Natasha Fyles and Minister for Environment and Natural Resources; and Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Eva Lawler will address a women in the public service event at the Northern Territory Library.

Rockbank, Victoria

  • A preview will be held for the Aintree Walk of Honour, a commemorative project to launch Sunday November 11.

Australia

  • Macquarie Media and BHP Australia will hold their AGMs, and James Hardie will release their full-year results.

Beijing, China

  • Foreign Minister Marise Payne will meet with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.